Earlier this year chef José Andrés fulfilled a longtime dream of taking his old friend Anthony Bourdain to his birthplace, Asturias, Spain. The two hiked, drank cider, and feasted on the region’s seafood. Andrés spoke with Roads & Kingdoms co-founder Matt Goulding about his friendship with and admiration for Bourdain.
Matt Goulding: What was that like to go back to your homeland and show Tony where you grew up?
José Andrés: I had a very strange feeling about it, because in my heart I didn’t give a damn about the show. The only thing I cared about was having a good time with my friend and showing him the place I love the most. To be able to show him that was very special. And now I feel lucky that we had cameras there.
Goulding: It had been a dream of yours for a long time to go to Asturias with Tony, one of your best friends.
Andrés: But I was very nervous, because he went to the most amazing places on earth where he did very wild things, and all of a sudden I have to show him Asturias: It’s protected by mountains, the people are very different from other Spaniards, there’s a simplicity of life. I thought, Man, is he going to enjoy this? Is this going to be good enough for the show?
And at the end of the day, I realized it didn’t matter. Tony was able to take a rock and transform it into food and take water out of it—or tequila.
Tony was able to see what we are not able to see. He could give importance to things that many of us took for granted. And that’s the beauty of Tony—with just a stroke of a phrase he could make you think about something in ways you never thought possible.
In the end, I saw that it was not so much me showing him the region where I was born, [which is] an important part of myself. At the end of the day, he was showing it to me, and that’s beautiful.
Goulding: Can you share a meal or an experience that was really meaningful for you?
Andrés: We were at the top of the mountain, looking over a beautiful lake with all these snowcapped mountains and cows and green grass. But because the camera was focused on us with the beautiful views, we were facing the bathrooms. So there was one moment, 30 minutes into the shoot. He’s like, “You know one thing? We’re talking about how beautiful this place is, and we’re looking at people going into the bathroom and they’re coming out of the bathroom with dirty hands. What is going on here?”
Right there, right then—almost without saying anything—we gave our bags to the cameramen, [ended the shoot], and began enjoying life. That was Tony. Anybody else would have kept filming until they got “the shot.”
I never felt like he was bullsh*****g. The camera was just his medium. I think he was genuinely talking to himself and talking to the people he cared for and telling them, Hey, man, this is what I think about this sh*t.
Gracias Tony @Bourdain for inviting me to come to Asturias with you and the opportunity to show you that our cheeses are as good as what @ericripert fed you in France @ReySilo @DOPGamoneu @DOPCabrales pic.twitter.com/731Kq169B6— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) April 23, 2018
Goulding: Was there anything that he showed you in Asturias or anything that you experienced differently with him there?
Andrés: Well, quite frankly, the things we did together were great, but what I want to see are the scenes he shot without me. To maximize time, we shot a few things separately. He met with a group of miners, and then he went to see this pop band that plays “Asturias rock.” I didn’t go because I had spent a whole morning going for gooseneck barnacles and I was destroyed.
So I cannot wait to see the scenes where Tony interviews the miners—he always cared for the forgotten—and to see the moments where I was not present. I know what I did with him and those moments will stay with me forever.